What are your favorite creative thinking books? Why?
Today is "Publication Day" for the 25th Anniversary Edition (fully revised, updated, and redesigned) of my book "A Whack on the Side of the Head." Naturally, I'm thrilled.
I got to thinking about my favorite creative thinking books. I've decided to list the ones that inspired me many years ago. So here goes (I'll limit myself to just five):
1. The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler. This is my very favorite "creative thinking" book. It came out in 1963, and I read it as a student in 1967. This is probably the best-written of all creativity books. Koestler, author of the landmark novel "Darkness At Noon," tackles the creative process with gusto. AOC is filled with great stories and anecdotes. Koestler coined the term "bi-sociation of matrices of thought" to describe the creative act, and he investigated it within the realms of science, humor, and art. I still read this book every couple years. Highly recommended.
2. Conceptual Blockbusting by Jim Adams. This book came out in the early 1970s (the edition I first read was published by the Stanford Alumni Association). Adams, an engineer and a practical academic, showed me just how interesting the creative process could be. It has a lot of classic "creativity" exercises in it. I was quite flattered when Adams wrote a blurb for the second edition of "Whack" in 1990.
3. Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono (1973) This book made me think hard and deep about just what the mind is doing when it's able to get off the beaten path. A real classic mind-stretcher.
4. Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution by Paul Watzlawick (1974) . Watzlawick was an Austrian born psychotherapist who founded the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto. Many great (off-beat) stories and examples to support his ideas about "creative reframing." This book still sells well.
5. Applied Imagination by Alex Osborne (from circa 1953, currently out of print, unfortunately). Osborne was the "O" in the famed (1940s-1970s) ad agency BBDO. Thus, he worked with real clients and was in the position of seeing efforts succeed and fail. He coined the term "brainstorming." He's also sometimes credited with originating the SCAMPER creative technique.
You may notice that there are no books on this list that are later than the mid-1970s. There are two reasons for this.
First, I wanted to share with you the books that inspired me to go into business for myself as a creativity consultant in 1977.
And, second, I wanted to leave plenty of room for your favorites! (There have been many, many very good ones in the past thirty years.)
So once, again: What are your favorite creative thinking books? What would you recommend? Why?